air conditioner leaks

bonbeatOctober 4, 2012

The house was built in 1989. I bought the house last march and the original air conditioner was working but I decided to replace it due to the age. I had a professional install a system, electric, compressor outside and heat pump in the attic. The professional got a permit and the work passed inspection. By May the house would not cool, The comprssor was running and the blower was working but no cold air. The A/C man came and added freon and all was well for another month , then I had the same problem again. He said I needed the copper pipe replaced which I had him do at an addiononal cost and more freon was added. I had the same problem again in June. He determined that the heat pump coil was damaged dring installation and he replaced the entire heat pump unit and added more freon. All was great until Oct and now I have the same problem again. What is going on??

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mike_home

It sounds like this contractor is swapping components without identifying the leak. It sounds like a bad installation.

What is he proposing to fix the problem?

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 12:03PM
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bonbeat

The a/c man came highly recommended and he seems knowledgable. He did not charge me anything when he replaced the heat pump unit for the 2nd time because he felt bad we were having so many problems. He is in business for himself and I feel bad because we have had so many problems. Is it difficult to find a leak? Can you identify something else we could be doing. Is this type of problem common? It is frustrating to have so many problems and to live without the a/c after spending the money for a new unit. It is always hot here in Fl. I am waiting for him to come back out again tonight or tomorrow. I guess I am wondering if this type of problem is common and if I will ever get it fixed? Thanks for your response.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 4:38PM
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energy_rater_la

he really needs to use a leak detector and determine
where the leak is.
then determine why it keeps leaking.
may not be a common problem, but it is unusual
for a new install. if you were just nursing
an old unit along..then it would be more common.

if he troubleshoots the problem. determines
what causes the problem, then correctly solves
it..you should be good.
nice that he will come on the weekend..hope
you aren't paying weekend prices.

let us know what happens.

best of luck.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2012 at 7:05PM
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bonbeat

Well he said it was a clogged drain. I was not here when he was so I'm not sure what that meant. Where is the drain? He did not charge me anything and he came out on a Sat.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 7:37AM
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mike_home

He may be talking about the drain for the condensation coming off the coil in the air handler. In some cases the contractor will install a cutoff switch to shut down the AC if the drain is backs up. It is not a good sign the drain clogged up after a few months.

Ask more about this drain problem. I would be concerned that the drain is going to clog again.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 8:12AM
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bonbeat

Thanks! Why do you say it is not a good sign. We recently had some tile work done and it was dusty. Could that cause it

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 9:37AM
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mike_home

I believe your air handler is in the attic. I doubt the tile work caused the problem. If it were clogged, it may have been caused by some debris left over from the installation. I say it is not a good sign because the drain may not have the proper pitch in order to flow properly.

Get into the habit of going up in the attic and inspecting the drain. Hopefully the contractor has provided a proper trap and a method to clean it out properly.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 10:02AM
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energy_rater_la

drain is connected to the pan..which should have
a shut off if the pan fills to a certain level..
from the pan the pvc goes across attic and out
of attic.
exactly where..we can't see. you'd have to follow
it from the pan to see where it goes.

if insulation from the attic floor gets into the
pan, it can get into the drain & clog it up.

pitch of drain so that it drains is important
as mike states. the pvc should slope downwards
to its point of exit.

all drains should have ptrap. some companies
put a clean out in the drain line.

best of luck.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 11:05AM
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bonbeat

thank you. Now I will have an idea what I am talking about when I ask him about this. THANKS

    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 10:45PM
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energy_rater_la

just fyi...
condenser is outside.
air handler unit is inside.

there are freon leaks
and water/condensate leaks.

usually kick switches are installed ..kicks off unit when
pan reaches a certain level of water.
clogged drain lines cause pans to overfill.

look at the pan under ahu. there should be a switch
attached to the side of the pan.
or post a picture of pan set up.

the hvac world has a different language, which is
very confusing to the general public. this may
be the reason for mix up of componets. compressor
outside...heatpump inside. the compressor & heat pump
are the same..keeping it simple..the interior unit
handles the air..aka ahu

best of luck.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2012 at 12:06PM
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bonbeat

The air conditioner worked for 2 days and then it had the same problem . The blower works but the air is not cold. We are out of freon again. The A/C guy cannot find the leak. We are on our 2nd unit , got new copper tubing but still have the same problem. He checked all his sodered connections and can't find the leak. Now he said he is going to see if he can "find the sealant that used to be used with the old systems and see if it can be used". Has anyone ever heard of a leak that can't be found? Is there some type of special equipment to find a leak? Is it possible it will never be found? Is it feasible to recharge the freon every few months? We are in south Florida so a/c is a must.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 3:48AM
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brickeyee

" Is it feasible to recharge the freon every few months? "

It is a lot cheaper to find the leak.

You need someone that knows what they are doing.

I have never has a leak that could not be at least localized (like to a line running inside a wall).

It may require some demo work to find the actual leak, but the same demo gains access to them make the repair.

Refrigerant is NOT that hard to detect with the correct sniffer.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 1:26PM
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bonbeat

Is a leak detector something only a larger company would have? About how much do you think this might cost me? Will they just have to randomly tear up walls? I did not even know that the freon ran through the walls?

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 3:19PM
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mike_home

If the contractor has installed all new equipment and a new lineset, then he should bear all costs for finding the leak. If he doesn't have the equipment or knowledge on how to find the leak, then he should hire an expert to help.

In some houses the lineset runs through the wall up to the attic. You would have to open the wall the find the problem. I don't think you have this situation.

I find it troubling the contractor said you had a drain problem and now it is back to a refrigerant leak. I don't have a lot of faith in this contractor. If you lost refrigerant in two days then you got a big leak and should be easy to find.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 4:28PM
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energy_rater_la

call other companies for leak detection services.
there are dyes they can put into the system
that will show leaks and 'sniffers'that find
leaks.

your guy is costing you money, and your leaky
freon is not doing good things for the enviroment.

call some other companies.

best of luck.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 7:59PM
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brickeyee

Anyone that works on refrigeration equipment should have a leak detector.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 3:15PM
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bonbeat

The A/C installer mentioned he would "try to find the sealant that used to be used with the old systems and see if it can be used". Does anyone know what this means and is it a good solution. I'm starting to think I need to cut my losses and hire someone else.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 5:55AM
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mike_home

I could be wrong, but it sounds like he is looking into adding some type of sealant to the refrigerant. If that is the case then you need to hire someone else.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 10:32AM
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bonbeat

The original A/C man will no longer answer my calls. I called a larger company and they came out and identified problems with the duct work which cost more to repair. They still have not found the leak. They put some kind of dye in the system and said they will come back. My question is , Do I need to be running the a/c during this testing period? We are in a cool spell and the a/c is turned off. Will the dye work if the a/c is turned off. Thanks so much for all the help.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2012 at 7:51AM
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mike_home

Ask the service tech if you need to run the AC for the dye to work. It may not be necessary. The system is under pressure even when it is not running. Hopefully the dye will indicate the location of the leak. The tech may use a UV light to help pin point the leak location.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2012 at 9:45AM
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